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Is ECT a good option?

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My pdoc was really pushing for me to have ECT at my last appointment a few days ago.

He let me have my way though to try adding Wellbutrin first. If it isn't helping by the end of November, then he will take me off of it and we will most likely try the ECT.

He said I would need to be hospitalized for quite some time if I were to have it done. Right over the holidays too. Ugh.

I saw a documentary on it once when I was pushed to try ECT before by a different pdoc in a different hospital. So this is not the first time it has been suggested to me.

I'm just really nervous. I don't care for the hospital that offers ECT (only one hospital offers it in my town). I'm afraid of anesthesia and I'm afraid of it hurting. What if I wake up during? I'm really panicking thinking about all this. I'm not sure what to do!

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I don't know if it is right for you but ECT has been life saving for me.  I was in a suicidal depression for about 5 years and tried many meds.  Nothing touched it.  I was hospitalized several times and quit functioning. I finally got a set of 9 ECT over 3 weeks and went into remission.  It only lasted a few months though, so I got another set of 9 ECT and then started having one every 4 weeks.  I have had the one every 4 weeks for over a year now and no longer am depressed.  I was also afraid I would wake up, but the doctors told me they check very carefully that I am out before they do anything.  I did lose several months of memory after the second set of ECT, but have not lost any since.  It was worth it for me. I got my life back.  I also go somewhere where they do bilateral ECT.  I tried unilateral, I think that is what they call where it is just one side of your brain, but it didn't work. I need both sides of my brain zapped.  Anyway, I love ECT.  It is the only thing that works for me.

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There is no pain involved. I was a bit apprehensive about it in the beginning but after my first session I realized it wasn't so bad. They do stick you with an IV, that's probably the worst part. Then they inject something to put you to sleep and a muscle relaxer. After that they put an oxygen mask over you and in a minute or two you're out cold. I was a bit confused when I woke up but other than that I was perfectly fine. You don't even realize you had the treatment. The treatments really helped me...I had about ten. I'm no longer depressed and have a much better outlook on life. Everyone notices the difference in me. So don't be scared, it isn't what it used to be.

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I would try an MAOI before I would do ECT again. The first round really helped me and I had a second round a year ago. My headaches were severe, my memory was shot, and I had ECT induced delirium (I am NOT saying this will happen to you). I found it to be an very invasive procedure. That's my take on it.

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I've had ECT suggested to me in the past.  If my pdoc suggested it again and I was feeling comepletely stuck in an episode, I would definitely do it.  As scary as it seems, the idea that there was something potentially helpful left untried seems even scarier.



*edit: spelling

Edited by lifequake
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Hey cheese,

I can see all of the reasons it could be a good option for you

ECT basically saved my life for awhile for sure

It didn't fix everything and I'm still been better but I've also been way worse before it

Way worse

It did take up several months, yes

But it's not like I had other engagements really if you know what I mean

I was at the end of years of decompensation and multiple long term hospitalizations and discontinuations and

You've read my blog

You know what I'm talking about

And I've read yours

I spent months just desperately longing for death after my last acute episode and stabilization was not happening and clozaril ducked me and blah blah blah

There aren't many guarantees in life but one I'm real certain of: you're not going to wake up during

They also give you a little physical and take your vitals throughout

It's totally monitored

I had a lot of bilateral

And yes memory issues

I'm alive though

Also with pain, yeah, I guess I did complain of headaches (remediable ones)

But see in a positive I had to ask partner because I don't remember shit

I was also super disoriented right after each treatment for awhile and had horrible negative symptoms during the, three ish month recovery after and yes, memory stuff of various sorts

I was absolutely a sinking ship and completely treatment resistant

But I'm still here

And it's totally possible ECT could make a lot of difference for you, too

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I had ECT in 2008 and haven't had a true episode of depression since. When my grandma died, I did have an episode. But it wasn't a bipolar episode, as explained at the hospital by pdocs and nurses while I was breaking down. It was situational. My manias haven't been as high. It saved my life. It got me out of the worst episode of depression ever. I had 6 unilateral sessions with no memory loss of anything before the ECT. I have fuzziness surrounding the ECT but a sharp memory of certain things.


It is painless. The worst was the IV, and needles don't bug me, and I was so half asleep, it wasn't a problem. They used a very small one, it was over in seconds. By the time I was back up and completely with it, it was out and I was bandaged. Not a bruise later. I'd have a bit of a headache, they'd give me some tylenol and I'd be fine, they'd let me sleep back at the hospital (we'g to to the general hospital for ECT, as the psychiatic one wasn't equipped) all day but I had to get up for meals because it was buffet style. If I really wanted, I'm sure I could have had the nurses bring me some food! They'd leave me alone, ask if I needed more tylenol or something stronger (never needed anything stronger)


The ECT doc was very nice. So was the nurse, she would wait with us for our escort to the general hospital. She'd smoke with us, tell jokes. If we were nervous, she'd give us something in our IV. I never asked for it. You can't take a benzo the night before. The ECT doc always asked how I was, so did the anesthesiologist, they explained everything. There were 5 or 6 of us. The procedure was easy, painless. The worst was the headache, I had never really had a headache before. Anesthesia is scary at first. It's not bad. It's painless, the doc would tell me to relax, I was going to sleep, and then I'd be out. Everyone loves the anesthesiologist. They would put heated blankets on me, the oxygen bag on my face, and then I'd drift off.


I'd wake up, they'd give us juice or water after we got dressed. We'd be in gowns, they'd monitor vitals during the procedure. It was fast. I'd be confused, then take the tylenol, have a cigarette, usually bummed from the nurse!) get back to the psych hospital, they'd offer breakfast, I'd sleep, my pdoc would check on me, they'd let me do what I wanted on ECT days. Because of the anesthesia, I'd just sleep, and also because I'd be nervous the night before (and they'd wake us up at 4:30am!). It does that. I'd feel better by about 4pm, and go outside. Some evenings I'd play baseball.


So, I had a lot of success. I'd do it again if needed. 


Unilateral -one sided, less memory loss.

Bilateral - both sides. Sometimes more memory loss. 

There is bifrontal. It isn't as common, its newer.

They chose unilateral for me because of my age. I was 23.

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